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João Paulo finishes third in MLS MVP voting

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It’s just the third year a Sounders player has been named as a finalist.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Despite an outstanding season in which he stood alone in terms of contributions on both sides of the ball, João Paulo’s MVP campaign ended when he finished a distant third to winner Carles Gil. The New England Revolution midfielder garnered 52.07% of the total vote share. Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar got 11.8% and João Paulo finished with 4.9%.

João Paulo had his best performance among the “club” voting bloc, which includes front office and coaching personnel, where he got 9.1% of the vote. Just 2.5% of the media and 3.1% of the players cast votes for the Brazilian.

Although João Paulo finished sixth in assists (11), where he really stood out was in more advanced metrics. He ranked seventh in American Soccer Analysis’ goals-added (3.02) — which measures both offensive and defensive contributions — was third in successful tackles, 11th in successful pressures, third in progressive-passing distance among midfielders, and had the 16th-most progressive passes.

That João Paulo was even named a finalist was notable, however. Nicolas Lodeiro (who finished third in 2020), Jordan Morris (fourth in 2020) and Obafemi Martins (second in 2014) are the only other Sounders to finish so high in voting. João Paulo was also named to the MLS Best XI.

João Paulo was also one of three Sounders to be named a finalist for various end-of-season awards. Yeimar Gomez Andrade came the closest to winning, finishing second in Defender of the Year voting to Walker Zimmerman. Andrade pulled 16.8% of the vote, compared to Zimmerman’s 31%. Brian Schmetzer finished third in Coach of the Year voting, which was ultimately won by Bruce Arena.